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Fixing the Army (By Ruining It)

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Thomas Ricks posts several recommendations for fixing the Army. Most of them are really, really stupid.

Frank Buckles, Last American WWI Vet, Dies at 110

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The last American veteran of a conflict which ended nearly a century ago has died.

Veterans on the Supreme Court

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RedState‘s Erick Erickson notes that, not only would Elena Kagan replace the Supreme Court’s last Protestant but also “the last of the military veterans on the United States Supreme Court.” Indeed, according to his Wikipedia entry, John Paul Stevens “began work on his master’s degree in English at the university in 1941, but soon decided […]

Generals Against Obesity?

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Some retired military officers have formed something called Mission: Readiness to highlight the impact of our unfit youth on national security. A group of retired military officers says high-calorie school lunches are threatening national security. A study by the group Mission: Readiness finds that school lunches are making American kids so fat that fewer of […]

Army Secretary Ignoring Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?

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When I saw the NYT headline “Secretary of the Army Says He Will Not Pursue ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Discharges,” I was a bit shocked. While there’s always discretion in which policies one emphasizes, it’s unusual, indeed, for a senior official to blatantly announce that they’re going to ignore the law. It took me several […]

Gates Limits ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

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Secretary of Defense Bob Gates today issued an order sharply limiting the enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the Clinton-era regulation governing how the military deals with homosexual troops.  Spencer Ackerman has details. In a major victory for opponents of the military’s ban on open homosexual service, Defense Secretary Robert Gates significantly revised how the […]

Degree Mills and Credentialing

Chris Oleyte Degree Mill Scammer

It seems that “Chris Oleyte, the Army Aviation and Missile Command’s Director of Readiness used a fake diploma to secure a promotion and catapulted up the chain of command.” Furthermore, “there were six other AMCOM employees touting bogus credentials at taxpayer expense.” Further, Redstone Arsenal apparently “allows civil servants to enter data on to their […]

Jim Webb: Let Troops Drink

Soldiers Drinking

Senator Jim Webb says it’s time to drop General Order No. 1, which bans alcohol consumption, gambling, and pornography in hostile fire zones. In part, the order is out of sensitivity to “host-nation” culture. But it’s also a major safety issue. Alcohol, firearms and heavy machinery don’t mix, and the Department of Defense doesn’t want […]

John Patrick Bedell, Pentagon Shooter: Terrorist or Nut?

Pentagon Metro Shooting FBI Command Vehicle

It seems that John Patrick Bedell, who died from wounds received while shooting two policemen at the Pentagon Metro stop last evening, is, in the words of Patrick Frey,  “a 9/11 Truther and an anti-Bush nut case.” Matt Apuzzo and Devlin Barrett for AP: A California man killed in a shootout with Pentagon police drove […]

Military Leaders: Go Slow on Lifting Gay Ban

Casey and McHugh Testify on Gays

In something of a reversal of recent statements, the senior leadership of the Army and Air Force warned Congress about moving too fast to end the ban on gays serving openly. Top Army and Air Force officers said Tuesday they would be reluctant to overturn a 17-year policy that prohibits gays from serving openly in […]

OTB Radio — Tonight at 5:30 Eastern

The next episode of OTB Radio, our BlogTalkRadio program, will record and air live from 5:30-6:30 Eastern. Dave Schuler and I will be joined by special guest Pat Lang of Sic Semper Tyrannis to discuss the Baradar capture, the state of the war in Afghanistan, the US-Pakistani relationship, and the unfolding Iran story are all […]

Military Officer Promotions

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Responding to my post on the Pentagon’s findings that Fort Hood shooter Hasan’s supervisors didn’t do their job, Bernard Finel observes: A major challenge, though, is that there is a strong element of “social promotion” nowadays. Whereas promotion to O-4 (Major) used to be in the 80% range, now over 95% of eligible O-3s get […]

Pentagon Fort Hood Massacre Review Finds Nothing New

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The Pentagon has released its review of a shooting spree conducted by a radical Islamist Army major who gave every possible indication that he was a nut.  It admits the obvious: The military’s defenses against threats from inside its own ranks are outdated and ineffective, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said on Monday as he […]

Fort Hood-Linked Imam Killed in Yemen Strike

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An air strike in Yemen may have killed the top leaders of al Qaead’s branch in that country, along with an American-born cleric linked to the Fort Hood massacre. A Yemeni air raid may have killed the top two leaders of al Qaeda’s regional branch on Thursday, and an American Muslim preacher linked to the […]

Questioning Civilian Contractors

Columnist Gail Colllins asks “When did we decide that letting private contractors stand in for our military in sensitive and dangerous situations was a good plan?”: When did we decide this was a good plan? Let’s pretend for a minute that it is not stupendously irresponsible to let private contractors stand in for our military […]

Phil Carter Quits Administration

Phil Carter Official DOD Photo

Phil Carter, well known to longtime denizens of the blogosphere as the former proprietor of Intel Dump, has suddenly resigned as deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee policy. The NYT buries this news on A20: The Defense Department official in charge of closing the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has resigned after only […]

Soldier Mom Refuses Deployment

Alexis Hutchinson Soldier Mom Photo

A sad and not terribly unusual case: An Army cook and single mom may face criminal charges after she skipped her deployment flight to Afghanistan because, she said, no one was available to care for her infant son while she was overseas. Spc. Alexis Hutchinson, 21, claims she had no choice but to refuse deployment […]

Military Bureaucracy

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Two separate reviews of The Fourth Star, a new book by David Cloud and Greg Jaffee, touch on a theme that has fascinated me since I wrote a dissertation on the subject. NYT foreign correspondent Dexter Filkins (via SWJ): “The Fourth Star” paints wonderfully dramatic portraits of the four senior officers highlighted here, but at […]

Manly Thoughts

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If you haven’t been reading MANzine lately, here’s what you’ve missed: Features: Fixing College Football (James Joyner) –   Most of the first weekend’s college football games are a joke that make a mockery of sportsmanship and competition. Manliness in the Modern Age (Alex Knapp) – I’ve never understood why so many of my male […]

Army’s New Parachute

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Back in the days when men were men, Army paratroopers jumped with ‘chutes like the T-10 Charlie or the Dash One Bravo.  Now, they’ve switched to wimpy little ‘chutes that provide soft landings. Nathan Hodge: Today’s soldiers are weighed down with a ton of gear, and the Army wanted a new parachute that could carry […]

Petraeus Air Force Joke

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General David Petraeus made a funny at the expense of the Air Force in his remarks at the Marine Corps Association Foundation dinner last month: Come to think of it, in fact another bedrock element of the Marine Corps is unquestionably having the best recruiting ads on television. [Laughter] But this concept is not just […]

Medal of Honor a Posthumous Award Only?

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The Conservative Wahoo makes an interesting point: “Are There No Live People Worthy of the Medal of Honor?” News yesterday of the upcoming posthumous award of the Medal of Honor to SFC Jared Monti, USA for conspicuous gallantry in Afghanistan. I am humbled and awed any time I read of the bravery and selflessness of […]

Stephen Colbert in Iraq

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Stephen Colbert takes a lot of grief from my side of the aisle for his partisanship but his USO trip to Camp Victory in Iraq deserves nothing but praise. Here’s Campbell Robertson‘s NYT writeup from a couple days back: War, as things go, is a fairly unironic exercise. Sure, there are endless incongruities to be […]

Matthew Yglesias on Jeff Sessions

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Matt Yglesias snarks, Watching the Senator from Alabama’s press conference, I’m comforted by the fact that whatever our ideological disagreements this is a man who’s made it in life without any preferential treatment. One hundred percent meritocracy in action. America is a beautiful place. Presumably, no one makes it to high office without some sort […]

Military Recruiting Shootings

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One soldier was killed and another seriously injured in a shooting at an Army-Navy Recruiting Center in west Little Rock, Arkansas.  Thankfully, the second’s injuries are not considered life-threatening.  Contrary to earlier reports, both victims were “just out of basic training,” participating in the “Hometown Recruiting Assistance” program, and not Army Recruiters.  An arrest has […]

Brian Brennan – Curahee

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This CBS News report on Army 1st Lieutenant Brian Brennan made the rounds over the weekend but I just got around to watching it over lunch: My smart alecky take:  Is there nothing David Petraeus can’t do? More seriously, there’s a reason the combat arms spend so much time inculcating esprit de corps and stressing […]

Army: No More Felons and Druggies (Until Economy Gets Better)

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What goes around, comes around: “The Army last month stopped accepting felons and recent drug abusers into its ranks as the nation’s economic downturn helped its recruiting, allowing it to reverse a decline in recruiting standards that had alarmed some officers.” Thus begins an Ann Scott Tyson piece reporting that “rising unemployment, security gains in […]

More Boots on the Ground

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The Army has ordered 165,000 pairs of waterproof, harsh-weather combat boots at a price of $13 million. At $78 a pair, that’s a pretty good deal on Gore-Tex boots; I paid something like $130 back in 1989.  Of course, they weren’t standard issue then, either. Presumably, though, this means the Army expects to have quite […]

Army Strong

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Jim @ The Unholy Rouleur makes a trenchant observation in a post mostly about something else: There was a good Army recruiting ad a little while back in the “Army Strong” recruiting campaign that summed up the Western soldier’s ethos better than anything I have ever heard before or since. The ad’s argument, paraphrased, was, […]

Army Offers Citizenship for Enlisting

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The Army is beginning a pilot program to allow skilled green card holders to enlist and get a fast-track to citizenship, Julia Preston reports on the front page of today’s NYT. Stretched thin in Afghanistan and Iraq, the American military will begin recruiting skilled immigrants who are living in this country with temporary visas, offering […]

Army Recruiting Stand-down Follows Suicides

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The Army is shutting down its entire recruiting operation in the wake of four suicides, Army Times reports. Army Secretary Pete Geren has ordered a stand-down of the Army’s entire recruiting force and a review of almost every aspect of the job is underway in the wake of a wide-ranging investigation of four suicides in […]

America and the World After Bush: Diplomacy and Security

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Barack Obama has been president for more than 24 hours now.  America is once again beloved by one and all.  Hubris and overreach are things of the past, as the inmates of Gitmo have been freed and the troops are all home from Iraq, participating in rebuilding the infrastructure at home.   Or, certainly, change is […]

Military Service Demographics

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Danielle Allen takes to the editorial pages of WaPo to decry the regional disparity of military service in a piece titled “Red-State Army?” Whereas in 1969 13 percent of Americans were veterans, in 2007 only 8 percent of us were. Even more important than these general demographic shifts is the change wrought by the end […]

Why Are You So Awesome?

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Andrew Exum (aka “abu muqawama”) offers a rather blistering review of Linda Robinson’s Tell Me How This Ends: General David Petraeus and the Search for a Way Out of Iraq. This, too, is hagiography. (“It reads as if ghost-written by Petraeus,” one friend complained.) That wasn’t my complaint, though. Maybe Petraeus, like Mandela, is a […]

Shinseki’s Legacy

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James Fallows prints a reader email noting that, while former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki has won grudging admiration for his testimony before Congress saying we needed vastly more troops for the occupation of Iraq than Don Rumsfeld and company were planning for, many are still quite bitter about his other legacy. Shinseki is […]

Military Recruiting Up as Economy Turns Down

Uncle Sam Army Recruiting Poster

It was inevitable:  As it becomes harder to find work in the civilian sector, more people are turning to their local military recruiter. The economic downturn and rising unemployment rate are making the military a more attractive option, Pentagon officials say. In some cases, the peace of mind that comes with good benefits and a […]

Buffalo Chicken MREs

MRE Dehydrated Pork Patty

The Army is introducing a new MRE flavor, buffalo chicken, for the 2009 fiscal year.  Ward Carroll has sampled them and is “happy to report it’s really good . . . and I’m a hot wing connoisseur.” MREs (“Meal, Ready-to-Eat” in the quirky supply nomenclature of the U.S. Military) have been around since 1981 and […]

Army Has Major Deficit

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Robert Kaplan often refers to the “Iron Majors,” the mid-career officers who have chosen the Army as a career and serve in its key staff positions.  Ann Scott Tyson reports that we’re running low. The Army’s growth plans and the demands of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are contributing to a shortfall of thousands […]

Documents Link Ivins to Anthrax Attacks

Bruce Ivins Anthrax Scientist

Documents released today by the government offer some strong circumstantial evidence linking Army scientist Bruce Ivins to the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people. Army scientist Bruce Ivins had sole custody of highly purified anthrax spores with “certain genetic mutations identical” to the poison that killed five people and rattled the nation in 2001, […]

Army Linguists Net $150,000 Bonus

Army Language Bonus

The Army is looking at paying incredibly large bonuses to people fluent in Arabic and other strategically important languages. The Army may begin paying a retention bonus of as much as $150,000 to Arabic speaking soldiers in reflection of how critical it has become for the US military to retain native language and cultural know-how […]

Anthrax Suspect Commits Suicide

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Via the LAT: Apparent suicide in anthrax case A top government scientist who helped the FBI analyze samples from the 2001 anthrax attacks has died in Maryland from an apparent suicide, just as the Justice Department was about to file criminal charges against him for the attacks, the Los Angeles Times has learned. Bruce E. […]

Yet Another Blow to the FARC

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Via the BBC: Farc ‘co-ordinator’ held in Spain Spanish police say they have arrested the representative of the left-wing Colombian rebel group Farc in Spain. Maria Remedios Garcia Albert, a Spanish national, was detained near Madrid, as part of a joint operation by the Spanish and Colombian authorities. […] It is claimed that Ms Garcia […]

Caleb Campbell Re-Drafted by Army

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Remember the feel-good story from the end of this April’s NFL draft when West Point’s Caleb Campbell was selected by the Detroit Lions? (If not, click the link.)  Well, the Army has changed its mind: Caleb Campbell will not get a chance to play for the Detroit Lions because of a change in military policy. […]